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1982 LEADSLED Roadtrip Part 2




In 1984 Mike Key created his famous LEADSLEDS book. It made a huge impact on me. Today, in 2016 Phil Waters makes us relive this 1984 book, with his photo collection and story.

By Rik Hoving with photos from the Phil Waters Collection

This is part TWO of the¬†Road trip to Des Moines:¬†Driving The Rebel to the KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular, 1982. If you have not read part ONE, then please read Phil’s STORY¬†first.¬†The photos in this article were taken by Phil in 1982, at the¬†KKOA Lead Sled Spectacular in Des Moines Iowa. A car show¬†this editor (Rik Hoving) know so well from the Mikey Key Leadsled book from the early 1980’s. This article is my story about the Mike Key book and how the photographer of the photos used in this article, Phil Waters lived my dream back in 1982.

In 1984 Mike Key published his LEADSLEDS Chopped and low – ’35 thru ’54 book. I bought a copy of the book¬†as soon as it came out, it was so fantastic. Filled from cover to cover with nothing but Custom Cars. I had never, ever seen anything like it before. Back in the early 1980’s I was a young guy 16-17 years old, and anything Custom Car related was nearly impossible to find in the Netherlands. So when the Mike Key book came out I was in Custom Car heaven. I have read the book at least thousand times, gone over every little detail on all the cars in the book. I had my favorite photos, like the Sam Barris Buick and the one of the Jack Stewart 1941 Ford (I had no idea it was the Ayala – Barris created Jack Stewart Ford for another couple of years). And there was one photo, or a mildly customized black 1950 Mercury. Nosed, decked, lowered and custom hubcaps. Not as spectacular as many other customs in the book, but the photo caption with that Black Mercury always intrigued me.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-33-phil-watersMike Key’s 1984 published LEADSLEDS chopped and low- ’35 thru ’54 book with on the back cover Phil driving “The Rebel” 1950 Mercury with Kathy Ashby in the passenger seat.

Mike Key mentioned the car was owned by Kathy Ashby, but that is was driven by an English guest of Ashby. I was “jealous”… I wanted to be this guest… But besides being “jealous”, it also made me think… that if this guy from England could go over to the US and drive a 1950 Mercury…. So could I… in perhaps a couple of years. Dreams!… I often wondered about this English guest, or better said myself in that Mercury, and what I would do if we would have arrived at the ’82 Lead Sled Spectacular¬†in Des Moines, where the mercury was going when Mike Key took that photo. I know I would have brought my camera and shot hundreds of photos of all those beautiful Customs. But sadly it was not me in that Mercury, it was that unknown guest from England.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-32-phil-watersPage 14 of the book shows Phil “the English guest” on highway 35W. Mike Key gave Phil the photos he took back in 1982.¬†

In April 2016 Phil Waters shared a photo on his Facebook Page, a photo of a young guy in a black Mercury. I recognized the Merc and the scene immediately. Phil mentioned that it was him, as a young guy back in 1982. Ok… so Phil Waters was this unknown guest from the 1984 Mike Key book black Mercury photo. WOW…

I checked out Phil’s other photos and sure there it was an Facebook album with around 50 photos taken at the 1982 Led Sled Spectacular in Des Moines. I contacted Phil and asked him if he would perhaps be interested in sharing his photos, and his story from the amazing 1982 show, with us here on the Custom Car Chronicle. He would love to do that he wrote back. Great!


A couple of days later Phil had scanned over 200 photos he had taken back in 1982,¬†and I could use them all he said. I was in Custom Car heaven.. looking at those photos took me back to the mid 1980’s when I looked at the Mike Key book for hours… and dreamed about being at that show… and taking¬†exactly the photos that Phil had just shared with me. It is so great that after 32 years I finally know that the English guest in the Mike Key book is Phil Waters, and that he took exactly all the photos I always dreamed of taking if I had been there.

Phil Waters, thank you so much for sharing these 1982 photo with us now. They bring back wonderful memories.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-20-phil-watersGreat low angle photo of a dark brown primered chopped 1950 Mercury, Donn lowe’s chopped white with burgundy and maroon scalloped 1949 Ford Coupe. Donn’s Shoebox had a huge impact on me.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-21-phil-watersYellow…. Connie Winkler’s 1939 Mercury 3-window coupe with 1940 Ford grille,¬†Jeff Johnson’s heavy chopped¬†school bus yellow ’50 Merc, and two photos of the huge hit Posies 1936 Ford convertible with white padded top.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-22-phil-watersDonnie Malinkovich¬†Ford Shoebox,¬† John Kolkovich built the sectioned Bonneville inspired red chopped and sectioned ’51 Ford and John Gowman owned the black and flamed pro-street box

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-23-phil-watersJim Wilkens finished an old sectioned project vehicle and brought it to Des Moines where it pleases the crowd. The baby blue ’54 Ford “Crystal Blue Persuasion” built by Keith Steies,¬†and bright red 1952-54 Fords show that these cars look good done mild, or wild.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-24-phil-waters“So Fine” 1950 Mercury with Pontiac grille bar and a wonderful Candy Apple Red paint job, an un-chopped nicely restyled primer gray ’50 Merc, chopped with¬†Buick headlights in the works project and Ken Meyer’s chopped 4-door Merc with red and white scallops from Kansas.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-25-phil-watersChopped in progress primered 52-54 Ford coupe project, Class of ’57 chopped Merc with unique front quarter panel extruding lake pipes. Glenn “Moose” Morion’s ’57 Ford convertible cruiser, and nicely styled black 1956 Ford Victoria.


Deep Candy Red chopped 49 Chevy with black wall tires, which sure made it stand out at the event. Lee Pratt’s primered sedan with Buick side trim, “Wild Child” Chopped gray with maroon scalloped Coupe and a rear view of¬†George Dorr’s maroon ’48 Chevy coupe with Plymouth bumpers.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-27-phil-watersRon Channel brought his chopped with ’50 Mercury rear window ’56 Chevy from Lebanon Illinois. It looked really great with the ’56 Packard taillights. The chopped and unfinished ’57 Chevy¬†shows these years chevy’s can make very nice Customs as well.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-28-phil-watersPat Show built this chopped with ’54 Buick headlights and ’60 Chrysler tailights ’57 Chevy hard top with smaller rear window.¬†The ’59 Chevy looked like it just rolled out of the early 1960’s.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-29-phil-watersDoug Reed’s 1949 Oldsmobile in wonderful medium green with dark green and gold tipped scallops. A nicely chopped mid ’50’s Buick with a yellow chopped 1940 Ford sedan, a line up of customs and¬†Elden Titus’s 1950 Buick.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-30-phil-watersVery nicely done bright red mild restyled Hudson, chopped ’56 Pontiac Safari Station wagon in black with red and yellow flames. Very stylish chopped mid ’50’s Chevy pick-up in pale yellow and two more in progress custom pick up projects.

CCC-82-des-moines-kkoa-31-phil-waters Super slick gloss black 1960 Chevy with yellow to red flames with reversed chrome wheels with narrow whites from Donnie Malinkovich, and later ended up in Japan. A very interesting in progress chopped 1957 Chevy custom project in brown primer. Kurt McCormick with his Sam Barris Buick in the late afternoon, and a flamed black with silver top 1950 Chevy Hard-Top.

Go to Part ONE

(this article is sponsored by)





Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

2 thoughts on “1982 LEADSLED Roadtrip Part 2

  • Very apparent that the traditional “roots” of customizing were already strongly revered in the early eighties, a time when some wondered if customizing had run it’s course. Thanks to the KKOA and folks like Pat Ganahl and the builders of many of the cars pictured here, the tradition has held on!

    Great story Phil! Thank you for taking (and saving) all those pics for us to enjoy. Thanks again to you too Rik for presenting the story and images in such an informative way and including your own anecdotes and memories to Phil’s adventure..


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